Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventure “Scourge of the Slave Lords”
We continued south down the passage, led by Ezekiel…Raven and Mikael followed him about ten feet back, just in case. This stronghold seems to love traps.
Up ahead, the blazing light of Ezekiel’s shield revealed a lumpy white thing hanging from the ceiling. After a moment of staring, we realized the shadows on the ceiling were from spiderwebs, mostly above the cocoon thing.
Before we reached it, we found a side-door into a storeroom. Ezekiel checked it out, and said there was lots of dust…and also an apparition of an elf prisoner that ran up some stairs, through a secret door, under an arch, and into a storeroom where he got eaten by wolves. Wish I could have seen how it could show all that while staying in one place.
Ezekiel came out, all fired up for an exorcism, and pointed out that the stone arch just outside the door (between us and the spiderwebs) looked identical to the one in the vision.
Mikael tapped on a strand of the web, hoping to draw the spider out, but they didn’t seem to care until Raven started cutting open the cocoon.
A web dropped down on Raven – and tried to grab Ezekiel, but it slid off him.
While Raven was cutting himself free, two huge spiders – bigger than Nori! – dropped from the ceiling. Heiron and I loosed our prepared arrows, and once one spider died, the other scrambled back up to the ceiling where it was hidden by cobwebs – ignoring Mikael’s attempts to befriend it.
It felt kinda creepy to have a giant spider looming over us that we couldn’t see, but Raven suggested there was gap it the walls or something like where the man and woman were hiding upstairs.
He cut open the cocoon and found a shriveled corpse – maybe human, but certainly not ripped apart by wolves. It had money in a pouch, and seemed to be holding its mouth closed with one hand.
When Agnar checked, the man had a ring inside his mouth. What could have been going on in his mind in his last moments? We figured the ring was probably magical, but weren’t sure in what way, so Lydia is holding on to it.
The next room down the corridor was also a storeroom, though not nearly so dusty. Ezekiel said something in there was hissing like a snake, so he, Raven, and Mikael all started digging through the stacks of boxes looking for it.
I felt Ezekiel hadn’t thoroughly cleared the first storeroom, so while they were all busy, I made a sweep (telling Heiron to stand by in case I turned Evil or something).
In the far corner along the wall, I found some dusty bones fragmemts…but they didn’t try to possess me or anything. We called Ezekiel back, but he didn’t sense any spiritual energy or whatever it is clerics do, so he said what he’d seen was a “phantom”…like a visible memory, but without any actual soul attached to it. Don’t know how that works…but then I don’t know how a regular ghost works.
We joined the others in the corridors, where Mikael explained they found no snakes – only extra-big cockroaches. He must draw the line at roaches, since he was feeding them to his pet lizard without remorse.
Raven said some of the china dishes in there were really nice, so we’ll have to remember them before we leave this place for good.
The third room along the hallway looked like it was more inhabited – cots, old boots, and an unfinished dinner littered the place, along with several chests. These didn’t hold trade goods (or so I assume) – they held chains and padlocks. Possibly for securing items??
The closet of this room held a strange winch-looking thing, leading into a hole in the wall. We weren’t sure what it might be for – though it came in handy later. I sniffed around, concentrating on magical eminasions…but nothing showed up as magical except the ring Agnar found (he tried it on and insisted it didn’t do anything…not even show him cheese that wasn’t there).
Things got more exciting when Ezekiel explored to the end of the hallway. Just where it turned a corner south, he lurched against the north wall and stood there, arms flat to the wall.
We couldn’t see anything holding him, but he couldn’t move. Raven went over to try to help, and his daggers flew out of his belt and hit the wall on either side of Ezekiel.
I remembered the closet with the funny winch was about behind there, so I asked Lydia to take Heiron and see if messing with that freed Ezekiel.
I didn’t go myself – because right about then, a translucent figure, like a man, but more disheveled, appeared in the air. Ezekiel had Protectiom from Evil on him, but he was stuck to the wall…and Agnar was not. If the spooky grabbed Agnar, I wanted to be on the scene to keep everybody alive until Ezekiel got free.
Ezekiel was struggling against the wall with his gloves of strength, when – pop – he staggered forward, and Raven’s daggers dropped to the floor.
I coaxed Agnar and the other one to back up while Ezekiel approached the see-through figure. He spoke in a chanty, soothing tone…and the glimmery figure vanished. With that done, we’d pretty much wrapped up our assignments for this fortress (that we knew about).
The end of the hall had stairs climbing to the west, and to the east, an oil lamp hanging from a hook – mysteriously enough, still lit. Ezekiel turned it, like he’d seen in his vision, and a new room opened up. (Yeah, they love their secret doors here.)
Inside, someone’s dinner sat abandoned on a table…and a disheveled prisoner locked in a barred cell. Seems the guards left him to his fate when they cleared out (that’s what we get for leaving the alchemist alone. At least they didn’t just murder him like they did the others).
Raven unlocked his cell – and the man rushed to the table, shoving food into his mouth almost faster than he could physically swallow. Raven examines the food, and tried to put aside some that he thought was questionable – especially the meat – but the prisoner became almost combative if it looked like we were taking food away from him. He made grunting sounds if we spoke in Common, but any other language he didn’t acknowledge at all…and we couldn’t get him to speak period. Maybe something wrong with his throat, since he was using his tongue fine.
Finally, he was so full he started throwing up (that or he ate the “questionable” stuff) – and then kept stuffing his face. In the end, Raven had to tie him up and carry him to get him out of the room.
We headed up the stairs to the west (no traps for once), and Ezekiel cracked a wood panel at the top – to reveal a pantry. Sure enough, the same pantry that opened into the kitchen/dining area outside Ichar the blind leader’s room! So we have come full circle, and I guess we’ve found the closest thing the basement has to a front door.
I think Raven has been adding to the map – drawing squiggles and writing “here be dragons” and such, just to mess with me. I can’t believe the goblins and hobgoblins regularly marched their prisoners past haunts and giant spiders and disgusting blue squirter beings just to get where they were going. (If I made a castle, I would certainly want the garderobe hidden behind a panel that opens when you win a life-size chess match against a giant earwig.) And a secret door you use all the time just becomes an inconvenient normal door (which reminds me…we still don’t know where Marquessa went if she fled across Agnar’s swimming pool. If the map is correct, though, she probably used a secret door into the cave system at the back of the fortress).
We poked our noses into the hall outside, but Cari and Filch are gone. We’ll hope they found their way outside and are living their best lives somewhere…though we’ll probably never know now if they’re cavelings or not.
Lydia confirmed a few of our things are magical, though Ezekiel wants to take them to an expert to see what they do – especially the anchor knick-knack and some of the potions (should probably investigate the amulets we have, too).
Lydia says she’ll get us back to Homlette in the morning. Usin is asking Heiron about hilt grips. It…It’s weird.
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